Baby Steps

“If you don’t start exercising and lower your cholesterol, you’re going to have a heart attack or a stroke.” This, from my doctor. My heart sank.

We’re talking major lifestyle change, here. You see, I used to have this amazing body. I mean, a killer, slammin’, take-no-prisoners type of body. Until I was 28 years old, if I had an issue with my weight, I’d simply make a mental note to lay off the cookies, and the pounds would melt away. Exercise? I didn’t need no stinkin’ exercise!

And then I stopped producing the human growth hormone, as one does, and began living with a tall guy and had the mistaken idea that I should keep up with him when we sat down to eat. I expanded overnight. That, of course, plunged me into a deep, dark depression. And I comforted myself with food.

I try not to look into mirrors. I don’t recognize myself when I do. Yes, something definitely has to change.

So about 9 months ago, I started making small alterations to my diet. And, lo and behold, I found I felt better. And as these small changes became habits, I’d add more dietary changes. Now I’m proud to say I’m vegetarian 4 days a week, and a lot healthier than I used to be on the other three. I’ve lost some weight. I still have a long way to go.

So when I went in for my follow up cholesterol test, I was really looking forward to the results. I was really proud that I’ve been eating so much healthier.

Imagine my horror when I discovered my cholesterol levels where even higher. This resulted in a stern lecture from my doctor.

Okay, okay, okay. I need to start exercising. It can’t be avoided. But how does one become an exercise person, for the first time ever, at age 52? At this point it feels like the couch cushions have been fused to my behind.

I’m certainly not going to become a jogger. The only time in my life I’ve ever run was when I was late for an airplane. That’s the level of motivation I require.

If the terrain around here weren’t so hilly, and there weren’t so many ghost bikes around to remind me of the many fatalities in this town, I might get a bike. But no. And long walks, all alone, are just too depressing to contemplate.

There is a public pool near me. I’ve never been there. I like swimming. But when I get home from work, I’m not very motivated to leave again. And when the weather is cold, the prospect of getting wet leaves me… well… cold. And let’s face it: there’s no job on earth that’s more sedentary than being a bridgetender.

Excuses, excuses.

So what to do? I’m a firm believer in baby steps. That’s how I changed my diet. Maybe I can apply that to exercise. I know myself well enough to realize that some radical, all-encompassing lifestyle change is not going to stick. But I can sneak changes up on myself, bit by bit.

So you’ve heard it here first. Today I brought some hand weights to work, and I plan to use them 15 minutes a day for starters. I’m trying to frame it as a gift that I’m giving to myself rather than a chore that must be done. Wish me luck.


A big thanks to StoryCorps for inspiring this blog and my first book.

15 thoughts on “Baby Steps

  1. Walking is good. And the U-District/Eastlake area are good for walking because of all the hills. I used to take a digital camera with me on my walks to help alleviate any possible boredom.

    I also recommend of keeping track of what you eat. Not necessarily keeping a food diary or anything like that, but noticing trends in your diet. For example, I discovered that when I tried to add variety to my soup-dominated diet by eating hamburger or steak, my cholesterol went up much more than it would have otherwise.

  2. Angiportus

    There’s a book out called “Health at Every Size” that might help. You could also lecture your doctor right back about how you’re doing the best you can and don’t need any sternness. He or she is a mechanic for a machine made of meat, and can bloody well be just as polite as I wish everyone was. If that doesn’t help, complain to the doctor’s superiors and perhaps find a new one.
    We were supposed to have nanites that can scrub all that stuff away by now. I wish I could have marched for science the other day…

    1. I’ve already decided to switch doctors. She was never a good fit. I’m still holding out for the nanites! And I had to work during the march for science, but I did watch the live stream of all the Washington DC speakers on the internet, at least. Even in the pouring DC rain, more turned out than for his inauguration. I bet that pissed off cheeto-head.

  3. Many many years ago I made the “mistake” of walking my dogs. Now I can’t go a day without them annoying me until I take them on a walk. And when my favorite dog passed away in 2014 I was so grateful for every day I got my butt out there because she loved it so much. She wouldn’t have ever known what she was missing if I hadn’t started doing them, but the walks made her so happy. That there is some motivation. I also listen to podcasts on walks which is a great way to get some listening in.

  4. You work very close to the burke gilman trail. You can ride, and never be off the trail all the way to redmond and back. 🙂 I am ofcourse speaking as a cyclist, but honest, it is the least damaging exercise (low impact) there is, and its amazing the blog fodder you can get from the back of a bike.

    Next month, they are shutting down I5 express lanes, part of the I90 and 520 bridge for the bikes. It does wonders for you.

    Ignore the ghost bikes 🙂

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